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My seedlings got soft at the base of the leaf

First things first, smell the plant. Does it literally smell rotten? You need the section on rapid browning of the plant. Otherwise continue.

This problem is called "Damping off". It is caused by a few different things, lets see which applies in your case:

In all cases I want you to seperate the sick plants from your healthy ones. Please make yourself a quarantine area, if possible in a completely different room than your other plants.

1: I used too heavy a soil mix: Clivia roots are very similar to those of epiphytes. In nature they tend to grow on the forest floor amongst bark and into rockly crevices. They like a fast draining mixture. Though forgiving of over-watering they are not forgiving of being left in any standing water. So make sure they are completely drained before you are done watering if you keep them in a pot and not in the ground.In fact, you get one shot with the root. If the roots are overwatered they will burst just like a baloon. Larger plants will have the strength to come back and regrow roots, smaller ones will sometimes just flop over.

WHAT TO DO:

This depends on when you caught the problem. If this happened to a 1 leaf seedling, well, unpot the plant and check the base of the plant. If it is still has turbidity, you have a chance to save the plant. Go to your favorite greenhouse, to Home Depot, Lowes, etc and buy some Rooting Hormone. We have found that what brand you purchase hardly matters. Cut off all the "Bad" soft root material, leave any "Good" turbid root material.

If you happen to follow our seed growing instructions, you should have some Captan around. If not any mild general fungicide will do. Mix the fungicide and rooting hormone 50/50. Now wet the mix and make a paste. Smear the paste on the base of the plant.We personally apply with our hands so the entire root becomes covered.

 

Now remove the bad leaf and any mushy material from the top. Hopefully the plant has more than one leaf, if not, if it has anything green left on top you have a tiny chance at bringing it back, if it still has a seed, you have a tiny chance at bringing it back, if neither of these are the case you can try anyhow but without a chlorophyl engine its pretty difficult for a plant to come back around.

 

And no matter how much it kills you to do so, do not water for a week.

If this was your issue, check out our "how to grow seeds" section for the recipe to our mix or alternatively you can buy the current generation of mix here:

Our Own Clivia Potting Mix 160 ounces (5 Quarts)

2: That is all well and good Mr. Smarty pants but I have a good clivia mix:

SOIL BASED FUNGI

There are a few nasty fungi that can get into your mix. If you are using our growing method, then the Captan you have been using will have shielded your seedlings from some of them already. The 2 that are usually responsible for the biggest problem in clivia are:

  • Fusarium
  • Pythium

Both of these are handled in the same manner. And I am gioing to give you a few different methods to handle them. The first is how we handle them, however the substance we use isnt available in normal stores, you will need to find a nursery supply store to purchase it.

Choice A: Zerotol

Zerotol is basically Hydrogen Peroxide. It is mixed with other chemicals to make a safer, stronger, longer lasting agent. It is extremely broad based in its action and kills everything from the above to algaes and mildews. Since changing to this fungicide, we have had plants such as our Streptocarpus grow in leaps and bounds. Once mixed it has an EPA value of 0 meaning that it is just about the only chemical on the market that requires NO wait time after spraying to re-enter the garden. We love it.

Heres the issues with it. It cannot be shipped because its an oxidizer. Its a concentrate of 27% hydrogen Peroxide, so you have to be VERY CAREFUL when mixing it, wearing rubber gloves so you dont get skin burns. Its not overly cheap. Otherwise its awesome stuff.

Mix it per the instructions (Curative is 1 oz. per gallon, preventative is .5 oz. per gallon) put it in a sprayer and spray ALL your plants with it with the possible exception of your just sprouted seedlings. now spray through the soil mix making sure to go all around the pot, and continue until you see water dripping through. You may also prepare a soil drench or use a watering can, this is just how we tend to do it.

If you do this 2 weeks in a row, you should kill off all the real baddies in your soil and on your plants. Fusarium, Pythium, Rihzoctonia, Rust, you name it.

Choice B: OK, This is another chemical that will work on Fusarium and Pythium. We do NOT use this ourselves but they are known to work on these soil fungi:

Mancozeb (Protect T/O, Other brand names). If We had not found Zerotol this would have been my next choice for a wide spectrum fungicide. This has been around a long time. Dad has some negative feelings about mancozeb from the past, perhaps it stains plants, he cant remember. Its cheap, it does the job.

Choice C: Organic Choice

Trichoderma, AKA Rootshield

We did a 6 month trial with Rootshield and did not find it to be overly useful to us, however we are NOT growing just a few plants. Trichoderma has the coolness factor going for it. Here is what it is and how it works:

Trichoderma is another fungus like Pythium and Fusarium. It actually fills the same ecological niche as those 2 fungi! And its bigger, stronger, and faster growing (Mostly because when you dose it, your putting in a tremendous amount of spores into the ground, billions probably).

Its completely safe to humans, pets, and plants. Supposedly it even grows ON the roots protecting them from harm. Sounds great!

Heres my problem with it...once you use this biological method you cannot utilize ANY fungicide that kills the fusarium or pythium, so if you get another issue, say rust, you have to be extremely careful in what you pick to handle it. Supposedly even some insectcides can knock it out.

We could not afford to have our hands tied like that. Perhaps you will find the organic method to your choosing though.